Develop Strategies in Dealing With The Four Causes of Information Overload
People are spending more time on the internet daily, and their numbers are growing. This is easy to figure out why: the easy access to the internet, added to the increasing ability of the internet to aid completion of tasks, has allowed for all manner of business to be completed with the click of a mouse.
In today’s connected society, you can find information anywhere, and at any time of the day.
With this constant barrage of information, we can quickly succumb to information overload. There is just too much information for us to process these days, and it can have a devastating effect on our health, as well as our mood. This constant state of information overload that we find ourselves in today can be attributed to the following causes.
1. More Information Than We Can Process
If you search the web for just about any topic, you’ll get millions of results. Add to this the hundreds of eBooks and dozens of traditionally published books that you can purchase, and you quickly succumb to information overload.
There is no way you can process all of this information in a lifetime. Just trying to discover who is an authority on the topic adds a whole other dimension to your search.
2. Bombardment of Unsolicited Information
Every day we are bombarded with unsolicited information through our emails and social media networks. Along with all the SPAM mail we receive on a daily basis, we are constantly bombarded with ads when you search the Internet.
We have email lists that we have subscribed to that are no longer relevant to our work, and social media notifications for news feeds that we are no longer following. All this adds up to an increased amount of unsolicited information that we have to deal with just to get to the information that we’ve requested.
3. Accelerated Speed of New Information
Keeping up with the flow of information was a lot easier when the majority of our data was delivered by mail or obtained through the daily newspaper. Today, thanks to the Internet and social media, we have to deal with a flood of information that is rushing at us from all sides. Not only has the speed of delivery increased, but it continues to accelerate.
4. Decreased Value of Information
At one point in our history, the information age was based on the principle that information was valuable. Today, in the attention age, the glut of information that is available, has changed the perceived value of this information causing it to plummet quickly. This applies to all information since we don’t have an efficient way to honestly evaluate what is essential, what is merely redundant, and what is plain junk.
The amount of information and ease with which we can obtain it has increased exponentially over the last several decades. The best way to combat information overload is to understand the causes behind the condition. Once you know what causes information overload, you can begin to develop strategies to beat it.
How to Cope with Information Overload
For all the benefits that have been gained by the advancements of technology, it also has a dark-side that can be attributed to it, information overload. The new 24/7 reality that has become prominent in our culture has had damaging effects on our health and mental well-being.
Here are several techniques to help take control of information instead of letting it take control of you.
1. Organize Your Inbox
The first step for coping with information overload is to organize and classify the emails that arrive in your inbox. Many of the mail programs today allow you to filter emails into specific folders to help you stay organized. By applying rules to your inbox, you automatically move the most important messages into separate folders, making it easier to locate them when you need them.
2. Set Aside Time for Review
An efficient way to manage information overload is to schedule a block of time during your day to review all the new information you’ve accumulated over the previous 24 hours. Set aside 30 minutes a day to review emails, documents, and phone calls. Rather than switching between different platforms throughout the day, try to get as much of your information reviewing done in a single sitting, so you have the rest of the day to work on essential tasks.
3. Turn off Personal Distractions
While it may not be reasonable for you to turn off your email notifications while at work, it does make sense to turn off distractions from your personal life that can interrupt your workflow. Put your smartphone away while you’re at your desk, so you aren’t tempted to send texts or check your personal email or browse your social media sites throughout the day.
4. Stop Multitasking
A recent study found that it can take you up to 20 minutes to regain your focus after being distracted. This means you should try your hardest to avoid multitasking. Learning how to cope with information overload is more about self-control than anything else. You need to learn how to manage yourself and avoid the temptation to work on more than one task at a time.
5. Keep Track of How You Spend Your Time
Throughout the week, keep a list of the activities you’ve been doing and how much time you spend on them. When you take the time to monitor the amount of time you spend on each task you can figure out where you’re wasting time and then reorganize your day to increase your productivity. These steps will help you cope if you are struggling with information overload.
Learning to deal with the abundance of information in the world will help you clear your mind and increase your productivity.**